Welcome to the exciting world of illegal outdoor games, featuring a horseshoe-inspired tossing game known as lawn darts or lawn jarts for those who inexplicably replace their D's with J's. As of 1988, the sale or use of lawn dart sets has been illegal in the United States, but a number of people still own and play lawn darts in the privacy of their own backyards. Lawn darts can also be purchased through Internet auction sites, yard sales and flea markets.
Essentially, lawn darts are weighted spikes, with plastic vanes installed along the sides for guidance and stability. A lawn dart set typically contains 4-6 darts, divided into two colors. There are also two small plastic hoops which serve as targets. These hoops are placed flat on a grassy area at a mutually acceptable distance. Each player or team uses a separate set of lawn darts so both sides can take alternate turns during a round.
The object of lawn darts is similar to the game of horseshoes, with bulls eyes scoring three points and the closest non-bullseye darts scoring one point. Each player flings a lawn dart into the air, attempting to achieve an arc that will end in the opposite ring. Because the lawn darts are weighted to be front-heavy, they tend to stick into the ground upon landing. Once all of the lawn darts have been thrown by both sides, the scoring for the round can begin.
Any lawn dart which lands in the center of the circle can be counted as a three point throw. If neither team scores a bullseye, then the closest dart to the center earns one point for the team or individual thrower. Rounds continue until one side has reached a certain number of points, typically 21 for a standard game.
Lawn darts can be very dangerous, especially around small children and pets who may not recognize an incoming dart in time. The darts themselves are not especially pointy or sharp, but they can pick up a significant amount of speed while in the air and causes serious damage to the things or people they land on. Because of some reported accidental deaths and numerous injuries involving careless use of lawn darts, the US government decided to ban further sales of lawn dawn sets shortly before Christmas of 1988.
There are safer alternatives to lawn darts available today, most of which utilize soft bags filled with beans, plastic pellets or dried corn kernels. The object of the game is still the same, but the chances of actually hurting another player or bystander with a spiked lawn jart have been reduced significantly in recent years.